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Student loan debt is highest at for-profit schools, report says

April 26, 2010 | 12:23 pm

Students who attend for-profit colleges graduate on average with much larger student loans than those who attended public or private nonprofit schools, according to a College Board report released Monday. As a result, officials urge students to consider their choices of colleges very carefully.

Using federal figures from the graduating class of two years ago, the study found that, overall, about a third of all bachelor-degree recipients finished school with no student-loan debt; half had loan totals of less than $30,500; and 17% had loan amounts above that figure.

At public colleges, 38% had no loans, 51% had debt less than $30,500 and 12% borrowed more than $30,500. At private nonprofits, 28% had no debt, 48% had debt less than $30,500 and 24% owed more than that. However, only 4% of graduates at for-profit schools finished with no loans, while 43% had loans totaling less than $30,500 and 53% owed more than $30,500, the study showed.

Sandy Baum, the report's co-author and a policy analyst for the College Board, said that for-profit schools may be the right decision for many students, but she said people should be cautious and consider their alternatives. For-profit schools tend to offer less in outright grant aid and enroll more lower-income students than colleges in the other categories, she said.

-- Larry Gordon

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